The 2019 fire season officially ended Tuesday on all lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. The last district to end its fire season -- the Southwest Oregon District covering Josephine and Jackson counties -- did so Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.
The 923 wildfires on ODF-protected lands this year is about average. However, thanks to favorable conditions and successful initial attack, the 16,867 total acres burned is 56 percent below average. Based on the number of days in fire season as an agency, this year was the shortest fire season in the 21st century at only 99 days. This is about three weeks shorter than the 121-day fire season average for ODF.
“Thanks to a minimum number of wildfires on the landscape statewide, we were fortunate to have adequate resources to respond to fires on our jurisdiction,” said ODF Fire Protection Chief Ron Graham. “With two team deployments – to the Milepost 97 Fire and Ward Fire - we share in the success of the 2019 fire season with Oregon’s complete and coordinated fire protection system, including forest and range landowners, local fire districts, Tribes, contractors, federal, state and county partners.”
The end of fire season removes restrictions on ODF-protected lands intended to prevent wildfire, such as on backyard debris burning and use of certain equipment. Many structural fire departments in Oregon, however, still require a permit for debris burning, so check with your local fire department before starting a burn.
As Oregon transitions out of fire season, ODF districts across the state are shifting their attention to wildfire prevention efforts. Clearing vegetation, creating defensible space around homes, and keeping those debris piles under control are just a few ways ODF is working with local landowners, members of the public and fellow fire response agencies to mitigate wildfire risk.
“While we are seeing cool, rainy fall weather, it is important to note conditions can change quickly,” Graham said. “Given most of the lightning this time of year is accompanied by rain, human-caused fire starts tend to increase in number. People are anxious to burn backyard debris piles and can get complacent with fire safety. We are grateful for the help of every Oregonian working together to prevent wildfires year round.”
The start and end of fire season are set by each fire protection district based on the fuel conditions in their area. The arrival of steady, soaking rain coupled with cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths usually triggers the closure of fire season.The 2019 fire season varied in length from 122 day in ODF's Southwest Oregon District to just 78 days in the Northwest Oregon District.